You love your pet and you want to make sure that the veterinarian you choose to care for them has the right qualifications to give them the treatment and professional attention that they need. But what qualifications should you be looking for?
Choosing the Right Vet
The process of selecting a new veterinarian can be a stressful one. There are so many things you need to consider. Does their schedule align with yours? Will you even like them? But beyond these day-to-day considerations, there are several potential certifications a given veterinarian can hold. But what do these certifications mean? Here is a rundown of a few of the most common.
Mandatory U.S. Veterinary Qualifications
When looking for a vet, check to ensure that the vet you are considering is licensed to practice in both the U.S. and in your state.
You may also want to take the time to look into whether or not others working in the hospital are licensed, like registered veterinary technicians. Visit your prospective vet's office and take a look around. If you don't find certifications hanging up in the reception area, ask to see them or contact your state board of veterinary medicine for more information.
Here are the two certifications you are looking for:
DVM (VMD) - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine - The first thing you should check is whether or not your vet is qualified to practice in the United States. When someone graduates from an American veterinary school, they receive a DVM—a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. All vets who practice in the U.S. must have a DVM degree. It signifies that the vet you are considering is, in fact, qualified to perform the duties of the profession.
State Veterinary Licensing - To practice veterinary medicine, some states also require a veterinarian to pass a state-specific examination. These exams typically test the vet's knowledge of the state's laws and regulations governing veterinary medicine. To maintain a state veterinary license, vets must obtain continuing education and may need to renew their license regularly (often every 3 years).
Additional Veterinary Qualifications
If your pet has health care requirements above and beyond standard veterinary care, you may want to look for a vet with qualifications that go beyond the standard DVM degree. Two such certifications are:
Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (DABVP) - Veterinarians who are ABVP Certified (ABVP Diplomates) begin with a DVM degree and then go on to accrue knowledge and expertise beyond what is required to practice standard veterinary medicine. ABVP Diplomates undergo a challenging 3-year process of additional studies and examination to become board-certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). These vets have put in the hard work and training to specialize in the treatment of one or more categories of animals.
Fear-Free Certification - If your pet is anxious or high-strung, you may want to take some extra time to locate a Fear-Free Certified vet in your area. This certification can apply to an individual vet, or even to the hospital itself. Fear Free training educates vets in the ways that they can make pets more at ease in their offices and during their treatments.